What’s So Special About “Special Sauce?"
In praise of the mayonnaise based sauce in its many forms.
The pantheon of mayonnaise-based sauces is vast, with each region having its own take on a similar concept. These sauces are often referred to as “special” or “secret” because while they’re made from relatively simple ingredients, it’s all about getting the right proportions and creating the perfect balance of flavors that will have you coming back again and again. Here, we will break down a few of these sauces, what makes them so appealing, and provide some insight into the development of our own Secret Sauce.
The most basic mayonnaise-based sauce, fry sauce, sometimes called pink sauce, is simply one part ketchup to two parts mayonnaise. Fry sauce may or may not have originated in Utah, but it has become extremely popular there and is served at BBQ joints and drive-ins across the state. While fry sauce may be a bit rich for a burger, it’s delicious for fried appetizers and is the basis or inspiration for the rest of the sauces mentioned below.
A classic sauce throughout the South, comeback sauce originated in Jackson, Mississippi, where it was used as a house salad dressing, similar to thousand island. It adds spicy brown mustard, Worcestershire sauce, chili sauce (the tomato based kind), and onion and garlic (either fresh minced or powder) to the fry sauce base. It’s a popular dipping sauce for fried seafood like popcorn shrimp. The name comes from the traditional Mississippian phrase “y’all come back.”
This sauce goes by many names depending on the fast food joint of your choice. It takes fry sauce a little further by introducing some sharper, tangier flavors into the mix. Many burger sauces include either relish or diced pickles, which provide a contrasting texture and cut through the richness of the mayonnaise base. Some variations also use minced raw onion to add further texture and bite.
Though it originated in France, remoulade has become a Louisiana staple. A blend of burger sauce and come back sauce, remoulade trades the ketchup in fry sauce for a vinegar-based hot sauce. Then mustard (sometimes coarse ground and Dijon), capers, Worcestershire sauce, scallions, garlic, parsley, and lemon juice are added. Try it in place of the comparatively bland tartar sauce on a fish sandwich or crab cake.
The Made In Secret Sauce was born through a team effort. We leaned more towards the remoulade model for a sauce that was tangier and spicier. Since one of our founders, Jake Kalick, is a fan of mustard on his
, we decided to make it mustard-forward.
To keep the sauce smooth but retain that allium bite, we added garlic and onion powder, while smoked paprika complimented the flavor of the
, and pickle juice added brininess. The final step was to add some vinegar-based hot sauce (we chose Cholula) which along with the pickle juice and mustard, helped cut through the fat of the burgers. We think it’s the perfect sauce for burgers, and we’re pretty sure you’ll agree.
With cookout season right around the corner, any of these sauces would be a great alternative to plain mayonnaise in a potato, egg, or creamy pasta salad. Or if you’re just looking for a sauce for your next burger or fried appetizer, you now have a variety to choose from.